At this moment, the veil of night had already descended, and it was deep into the night.
But the entire Taotie City didn't seem like a city at night because it was covered in lanterns and hanging streamers. Lanterns that flowed with dazzling glows of a variety of colors hung all over the city, causing it to be illuminated brightly and seem as if numerous flame dragons resided in the city. Moreover, it was actually even brighter than during the day.
When one looked up from the ground, this city that floated beneath the sky and within the clouds was flowing with multicolored lights and emanated a brilliance that illuminated an extremely far distance, causing it to be gorgeous and magnificent to the extreme, just like a miracle.
When Chen Xi and A'xiu walked out of the courtyard and entered the wide and bustling streets, it was as if they'd walked into a world that was multicolored like a painting, and a wave of bustling voice assaulted their faces.
All sorts of cultivators and stalls that cooked delicacies could be seen everywhere. The busy streams of people moved up and down on the streets while tasting delicacies and laughing happily, and the air was suffused with a mouthwatering and tempting fragrance.
A'xiu was excited to the point her face glowed, and she held Chen Xi's hand while starting her journey of eating and drinking along the streets.
Braised Crimson Tail Prawn that tasted fresh and spicy; some sort of 100 Beauty Profound Soup that was sour, refreshing, sweet, and cool; stone fried fish that was golden yellow and crispy; sweet, sticky, and tasty Ganoderma and azure date paste…
Numerous delicacies that were filled with unique flavors and represented the culinary accomplishments of the entire Dark Reverie were currently converged on the sides of this bustling street, and it was like a night market that allowed everyone to taste these delicacies for free, causing it to seem like the heaven gluttons dreamt of.
A'xiu ate from one end of the street to the other and from this street to the next. Her petite figure actually seemed like a bottomless hole that was capable of housing all delicacies.
She was truly too happy from eating today, causing her eyes that were like black gems to turn into two crescent moons, and her red and moist little mouth practically never stopped moving.
Chen Xi accompanied her just like this while he listened to her delighted laughter that was like the clinging sound of flowing spring water and watched her cheer and jump with joy for a type of delicacy, and his heart felt calm and full.
A'xiu's origins were very mysterious while her strength was extremely shocking to the point even an Earthly Immortal Realm expert wasn't a match for her. But it was precisely a young woman like this that was carefree like a naïve child, and every single move she made was like that of a young child.
It was truly impossible for him to imagine exactly what sort of environment would foster a young woman like A'xiu who still retained her childlike innocence yet just happened to possess extraordinarily formidable strength.
But Chen Xi had stopped guessing and stopped being on guard against her now.
Since the moment A'xiu helped him deal with his enemies without the slightest hesitation, he'd already accepted the existence of this young woman and taken her to be his friend.
Since she was his friend, then status, identity, and cultivation weren't important anymore, right?
Everyone on the streets of Taotie City were discussing a single person tonight, and it was Chen Xi. Because all of them had heard that this peerless genius had already arrived at Taotie City.
There were even rumors that Chen Xi was infuriated for some unknown reason and stopped the young expert of the Taotie Clan, Tao Kun, in the middle of the streets before heavily injuring him and drawing out all the great figures of the Taotie Clan.
But in the end, Chen Xi left safely, whereas Tao Kun was imprisoned instead.
This rumor caused the entire Taotie City to be stirred, and many people didn't believe this rumor. After all, this was Taotie Chen, yet Chen Xi actually caused trouble on the territory of the Taotie Clan and was safe and sound. Wasn't this too absurd?
But when they inquired about this news from their friends in the Taotie Clan, they obtained a uniform answer — Silence!
There was no denial nor confirmation, and they only replied with silence. Merely this attitude caused everyone to faintly sense that this rumor was probably true.
News of this caused Taotie City to be stirred even more intensely, and besides tasting delicacies and toasting fine wine with each other, the hottest topic everyone discussed was Chen Xi.
Why did he come to Taotie City?
Why did he fight Tao Kun?
All of these were like layer after layer of mist that caused others to be unable to refrain themselves from feeling curious and discussing it.
As Chen Xi and A'xiu moved about the row after row of stalls of delicacies, they naturally heard this series of discussions. But he didn't care at all, nor did A'xiu because her attention was completely placed on eating.
During this night, A'xiu ate to her heart's content and drank the wine from all the countless stalls of various sizes. In the end, because she drank too much and was unable to bear the strength of the wine, she was brought back to the courtyard by Chen Xi in an intoxicated and dazed state.
After he sent A'xiu back into her room, Chen Xi spent the night by himself in deep contemplation.
Three days later, the curtains to the Spirit Chef Gold Rankings were drawn.
The Taotie Clan held a grand ceremony for this and drew the attendance of cultivators from all over. But Chen Xi didn't participate and sat silently within his room while calmly preparing the various ingredients.
Even if he wished for nothing more than to bring the heavily injured Huo Molei back to the sect right now, he had no choice but to calm his heart and prepare for the Spirit Chef Gold Rankings.
Because he owed two promises.
Promises that were spoken must be carried out. This was a principal Chen Xi had firmly adhered to since he started cultivating.
The first test of the Spirit Chef Gold Rankings started in next to no time.
Chen Xi cooked a dish called 'Song of Fire.' It was cooked from 36 types of beast meat mixed with a few types of pungent spirit spices, causing its color to be bright red and curling with hot steam, and it emitted strands of extremely pungent and tempting fragrance.
When looked at from afar, it was like flames were burning violently in the sky above this dish, and it carried a visual impact that was unrestrained, bold, and seemed to disregard all shackles.
It just happened to be like Chen Xi's mood because the injuries of Huo Molei had completely lit up the flames of rage in the depths of his heart.
The Patriarch Tao Zhentian and all the seniors of the Taotie Clan were present.
Today was the day the Spirit Chef Gold Rankings began. The Taotie Clan had intentionally held a grand ceremony before this to draw the attendance of numerous cultivators from all over.
There was no lack of great figures who were renowned in the world amongst those who attended the ceremony, and all of them had come personally to offer their congratulations. This caused the Tao Zhentian and the others to be extremely proud and delighted, and they beamed from ear to ear.
But they didn't forget their duty to judge and select the creations that would participate in the Spirit Chef Gold Rankings.
"Beiron City's Master Qiao Fei's creation — Howling Dragon In The Sky!"
"Spirit Illusion Sect's Master Qiu Feng's creation — Star Adorned!"
At the entrance to the hall was a messenger that reported the name of the spirit chef and the name of the creation one by one in a loud voice.
Along with this voice, numerous delicious delicacies were placed in special jade boxes before being smoothly placed on the long table like flowing water. The jade box marked the name of the spirit chef and creation.
"Qiu Feng is participating as well? Amazing, I heard he's only a step away from attaining the ranks of eight leaf spirit chefs. It's our honor that he's able to participate in our clan's Spirit Chef Gold Rankings." The Patriarch Tao Zhentian roared with laughter and was extremely delighted. The Spirit Chef Gold Rankings this time was so grand that it exceeded his imagination because numerous spirit chefs that had made a name for themselves a long time ago had participated in it, causing Tao Zhentian to feel proud.
The other elders nodded with smiles on their faces, and they were extremely happy.
Right amidst this happy atmosphere, a voice that didn't match the mood in the slightest resounded out from the entrance. "Nine Radiance Sword Sect's Chen Xi's creation — Song of Fire!"
In merely an instant, the happy atmosphere in the hall was completely wiped away, and it became oppressive and silent.
The happiness on the faces of all the Earthly Immortal Realm experts including Tao Zhentian froze instantly, and it was replaced by indescribable gloominess.
Even the attendants at the sides of the hall were silent like cicada's in the winter.
"Hmph! This kid really refuses to give up his ill intentions!" An elder was the first to break the silence and sneered without end.
"Attendant, throw Chen Xi's creation out!" Another elder was utterly blunt and shouted loudly while panting with rage.
"Yes!" An attendant ran over hastily when he heard this.
"Wait." Right at this moment, the Patriarch, Tao Zhentian, suddenly spoke out and stopped this. "Fourth Elder, don't act based on emotion. The Spirit Chef Gold Rankings is the supreme honor of our clan, so how can we directly eliminate the creation of a participant because of personal feelings?"
"Then what should we do? Could it be that we should allow this kid to advance in the competition?" Fourth Elder frowned.
"Act according to the rules of the competition and decide the victor according to the quality of the creation." Tao Zhentian spoke with an emotionless expression.
"Alright! Let me taste what exactly this bastard can cook!" Fourth Elder arrived before the table in rage. At the instant he opened the jade box, an expanse of a wave of heat curled up like flames that soared into the sky, and it was suffused with a pungent and tempting fragrance.
"Eh? Its smell isn't bad." Tao Zhentian was surprised.
Meanwhile, all the elders saw a plate of a bright red dish placed within the jade box. The dish revealed the shape of a lotus, every single petal of the lotus was like flames and there were a total of 36 that had clearly distinguished levels, causing it to seem like a crimson red flaming lotus silently blooming, and it was extremely pleasing to the eye.
Merely based on this, they could discern that Chen Xi had already attained an extremely high attainment in the Culinary Dao.
All these elders were old Taoties that had tasted the delicacies in the entire world, so their gazes were discerning, their sense of smell was acute, and they possessed great experience, allowing them to notice how extraordinary this plate of 'Song of Fire' was with a single glance.
"Ptooey! Ptooey! Ptooey! What the fuck is this? Is this something humans can eat?" Fourth Elder moved his chopstick and had just clamped a piece into his mouth before he spat it out, and he shook his head repeatedly. "It must be eliminated! Its taste is too inferior, it must be eliminated!"
He didn't even taste it before jumping to conclusions, and it was obvious how he detested Chen Xi.
Tao Zhentian frowned and personally stepped forward to taste a mouthful, and then he went silent for a long time yet didn't say anything before instructing the other elders to start judging the other creations.
The other elders heaved a sigh of relief in their hearts when they saw this because even the Patriarch didn't say anything, so it seemed like he'd given tacit consent to eliminate Chen Xi.
At the end, the 3,000 creations were judged, and the name list of the 100 spirit chefs that advanced were quickly selected.
However, all the elders never expected that the Patriarch actually placed Chen Xi's name within this list!
As he looked at the bewildered expressions of all the elders, Tao Zhentian couldn't help but sigh deeply, and then he turned around and left the hall. "Everyone, no matter when it is, I hope all of you don't forget the foundation of our Taotie Clan!"
His voice reverberated in the hall, and his voice was steady and resounding. When it entered the ears of the elders, it caused them to go silent instead while they revealed indeterminate expressions.
The next day.
Chen Xi received an invitation to head to Taotie Palace to participate in the second round. In other words, he'd already successfully stood out from amongst the 3,000 spirit chefs!
Besides feeling surprised by this, he couldn't help but admire the Taotie Clan's respect and protection of the rules of the competition.
He didn't think any further and headed to Taotie Palace. Unlike the first round, the cooking in the second round was based on the various topics presented to the spirit chefs by the elders of the Taotie Clan.
These topics wouldn't be told to any spirit chefs beforehand, and it was precisely because of this that the difficulty of this second round was obviously much greater than the first round.
Chen Xi felt extreme anticipation instead, and he wondered what sort of topic he would receive from these elders of the Taotie Clan that gnashed their teeth in hatred towards him.